So much, Racialicious decided to write about it. They say it was Cornel West and his love of the patriarchy that denied Melissa Harris-Perry her tenure track at Princeton. This sexist monster even went as far as saying,
“There’s not a lot of academic stuff with her, just a lot of Twittering,”
Lets see if there’s any truth to that. I did a google scholar search of her work to see how much she produced and the results were close to fifteen pieces we can consider to be peer-reviewed. If we assume that citation numbers dictate how well a piece was received and how influential it may be, then she only has one truly well-recognized piece. It was a book that drew from her dissertation. It has 113 citations. Her second most cited work came out in 2001 and received twenty-nine total citations in over a decade of being published. The book has been around for five to six years, the dissertation it was based on, close to a decade if I’m not mistaken. I would sleep comfortably with what Melissa Harris-Perry has produced in Academia so far, but I wouldn’t dare think it would get me tenure at Princeton. I’m not sure about at what rate people cite in the discipline of African-American Studies, but 113 doesn’t look like Princeton tenure numbers to me. When I search my own discipline and compare, the numbers definitely aren’t all that. I’m not familiar enough to compare it with the work of associate and tenured professors in African-American studies. I GUESS that’s a huge caveat.
So yeah, Princeton’s denial of tenure wasn’t the patriarchy at work. It was “not a lot of academic stuff”
I feel like the twitter part dismisses what she brings to the table and this is the issue I have with the West quote. Lets not say Cornel West is too high up on the ivory tower to realize there are a shitload of black people to be reached on twitter. Brother West might be too old school or simply lost(The rap album? Come on, son) when it comes to getting a hold of the black community at large. Black people stay on the internet, and in response, Cornel West has a boring radio talk show with Tavis Smiley, hosted on the ugliest website ever? I follow Cornel West on twitter and most of his activity looks like it comes from an intern, what a waste of an opportunity. He doesn’t need to go on a poverty tour, he could have reached just as many people if he would just sit his butt home and engage the black community on twitter. This is what Melissa Harris-Perry does right, even if she is the white liberal media’s current play thing — in that short span of time she may be able to reach more than Cornel West ever dreamed of. She’s been on the internet, talking with black folk and now she’s on ttv, something black folk love, ready to connect with more. Her stuff may not be very academic, and she may be on a path some of black academia disagrees with but it’s an avenue that needs to be explored. She’s a trailblazer, and that is worthy of tremendous praise.
In short, Cornel West was right to deny her tenure, but he is clueless in understanding what Melissa Harris-Perry brings to the table.